One of the tenants we have connected with, Reginald, was kind of enough to share some of his story with a member of GHTU, Jelani.
Reginald, a 61 year old veteran, is in danger of losing his home. He is currently disabled because of ailments sustained during his service in the Marine Corps, which along with the Covid-19 pandemic has affected his ability to find work. Reginald has a paralegal degree and previously interned at the House of Representatives and worked as Governor Tom Wolf’s receptionist. He explains that he is attempting to find ways to earn money so that he would be able to afford staying in his apartment, but is behind on rent and could soon face eviction.
His landlord and city building inspectors have ignored standard procedures to maintain a safe living situation. Rats and water bugs often make their way into his home, the air is covered with dust and sickening particles, and the basement is in really poor shape. Reginald also tells Jelani that his upstairs neighbor’s toilet often overflows and water comes through the ceiling, dripping directly onto his bed.
Despite these violations, Reginald explains that the judge overseeing his neighbors’ eviction cases did not give any consideration about the conditions of the landlord. Tenants were maybe given some extra time to make the payments, but ultimately were held to a higher legal standard than the landlords responsible for providing safe housing.
“It’s terrible the way they treat us. They will find a way. Somebody will find a way to put the blame back on the poor individual. We’re at somebody else’s mercy.”
“It’s about control and power and privilege, and people seem more interested in power and privilege and control than humanity and helping and what’s right.”
Reginald doesn’t know how long he has until he is evicted, but does plan to fight these situations legally. There is evidence that he plans to use if his case is taken to court. It helps that he is knowledgeable of the rules and regulations of apartment codes and plans to help people out in the future. Until then, the future itself seems uncertain.
“I’m like everybody else, my life is in someone else’s hands”
Interview and photos by Jelani Splawn